We recently received an artist book created to commemorate the funeral for the melting of the Icelandic glacier Okjökull. The book consists of a series of 200 posters dated from 2019 until 2219, an ink pad, a stamp, and some explanatory materials. The creators envisioned that owners of the book each year would stamp and display that year’s poster as a way to remember the glacier and other glaciers that are melting. This would take place for the next 200 years ending with the death of the last glacier, Vatnajökull. The hope is that through our actions we could stop the melting of the Icelandic glaciers, and thus would no longer have to stamp and display the posters.
A couple of years ago we featured The Red Book of Houston in a post. That post began a series of events that will conclude with an unveiling of an ArcGIS Story Map at a panel featuring local/regional historians on Wednesday the 28th.
One of our newest book acquisitions is this copy of The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements, a groundbreaking volume of biographies of 57 black men and women across history. Issued in 1863, the same year as the first volume, this revised and expanded edition was written by William Wells Brown. Brown was a prominent African-American abolitionist, novelist, and historian.
Writing and publishing The Black Man during the Civil War, Brown writes about his contemporaries acknowledging they were living in momentous times and to single out black men and women too long ignored or belittled: those “who by their own genius, capacity and intellectual development, surmounted the many obstacles which slavery and prejudice have thrown in their way, and raised themselves to positions of honor and influence.”
This first “revised and enlarged edition,” second edition overall, contains four biographies not present in the same year’s 288-page first edition: artisan Joseph Carter; Union scout James Lawson; Union Captain Joseph Howard of the Second Louisiana Native Guards who fought the racism of Northern Union officers to command his black soldiers in battle, and Union Captain Andre Callioux, now recognized as “the first black warrior-hero of the Civil War, an officer in the first black regiment to be officially mustered into the United States Army and the first to participate in a significant battle. Both in life and in death, he did much to inspire, embolden and unify people of African descent in New Orleans” (New York Times). Also featuring Brown’s revised Memoir, along with rear leaf containing “Opinions of the Press,” containing praise from Frederick Douglass’ Monthly, the Liberator, and other key sources—not present in the first edition.
Many of our online exhibits previously lived at the same URL exhibits.library.rice.edu. We have wanted to move each of the exhibits to a unique URL, but were unable to find the time for it in addition to our other duties. In our remote working environment, nit-picky work like creating unique banners, checking URLs, and updating out of date information became much easier to do.
You’ll find information on Dick Dowling, the Abbie Hoffman Incident, and U.S. Civil War Narratives, along with other exhibits that focus on Rice history, local history, and rare books.
Any new online exhibits and story maps will be added to that page. Have fun!
In August, searching the library’s catalog completely changed. We moved from an outdated system that the catalogers used to input the library’s holdings that had a hard time with digital formats to a brand new one that has its own quirks, but is definitely a huge step forward.
One major thing that changed was searching our rare books. In the old system, a researcher could do a location search of our different rare book collections. If you don’t know about our many collections, here’s a page with more information.
In the new system, the steps are a bit different, but we now have an amazing video that is a demonstration created and narrated by Susan Garrison the library’s Access Services Manager.
Rice University Fondren Library – Collection Discovery – Woodson Research Center — Watch Video
This week’s blog post is brought to us by Jeanette Sewell, Database and Metadata Management Coordinator.
You’ve probably heard of the Pantone Color Matching System that was invented in the 1960’s, but an enterprising ornithologist also developed his own system in the early 20th century.
Robert Ridgway was an ornithologist who became the first full-time curator of birds at the United States National Museum in 1880. Ridgway was renowned for his technical illustrations of birds as well as describing for science the most North American species in his lifetime. In 1912 Ridgway published his Color Standards and Color Nomenclature “so that naturalists or others who may have occasion to write or speak of colors may do so with certainty that there need be no question as to what particular tint, shade, or degree of grayness, of any color or hue is meant” (1). This unique book features 1,115 colors, each represented on an individual plate pasted above the color’s name. Each page also features a tissue paper overlay, making it quite fragile. Ridgway included a note of caution that these pages should not be exposed to light “for a longer time than is necessary” in order to protect the pigments (44).
In his prologue, Ridgway mentions other familiar companies, such as Milton Bradley and Prang, but notes that these “fail[ed] to supply a ready or convenient means of identifying and designating the colors” in a scientific classification scheme (2). Thus, he painstakingly noted his detailed processes for identifying and naming the colors in his work. He also included definitions of color terms and charts that show the tone percentages used to construct the plate variances. In 2017, the book was displayed alongside specimens of leaf warblers from the Philippines as part of the Smithsonian’s Color in a New Light exhibit to give viewers a sense of how Ridgway identified his colors in the wild. His books are still referenced by naturalists today, and colors like “Vandyke Brown” and “Forget-me-not Blue” are easily conjured by the imagination thanks to popular paint and crayon variations.
Fondren Library is lucky enough to have two copies of Ridgway’s text in its collection. Only 500 copies were originally printed, and an original volume is currently listed for sale at $750 on the Abebooks website. Recently, a professor returned one copy and informed the Woodson of the book’s value and rarity. A subsequent search of the catalog revealed the additional copy located in the general stacks. For preservation purposes, one copy now resides at the Woodson while the other will be moved to the Library Service Center. Additionally, the book is available to view electronically via the Internet Archive. Other works by Ridgway are housed at the Library Service Center and on microform as part of the Kelley Center’s government publications collection.
June 28th is the day to celebrate big Paul Bunyan. We’ve got an amazing Limited Editions book club version of the stories.
First, the book really plays up the idea of wood. There’s a box made of cardboard with a fake wood paper on the outside. Within that, there’s a similar fake wood paper removable cover also made out of cardboard. Then, there’s the actual cover of the book with same wooden print.
Unlike some of the older Limited Editions, this one has beautiful illustrations.
It’s also signed by the illustrator.
One more thing, here are some news items about the Woodson and those connected to our collections.
We have found another weird treasure with an unusual history.
In the early 20th century, a man named Otto Ege had the idea that if he disassembled rare books, created unique sets of the leaves (pages), and sold them far and wide that ordinary people would be able to enjoy them and see these precious artifacts. While his mission might have been noble, he ultimately sliced up rare books. A patron requested to view the library’s Ege set last week. Because of the book’s poor housing, we discovered what it actually contained, not simply facsimiles but the real thing.
We have another example of this phenomenon in our collection. Our medieval manuscripts leaves have all been removed from their original books and sold as individual pages.
Ege created a few sets including one focused on Bibles and our set. Below is the index and a few notable selections. Each page has an explanatory note about the work.
Published in 1915, The Red Book of Houston: A Compendium of Social, Professional, Religious, Educational and Industrial Interests of Houston’s Colored Population is quite rare. According to WorldCat, there are two versions of this book held in libraries across the United States. One is at Rice and the other is Prairie View A&M University. This isn’t the full story, though.
While Rice does have a version, ours is quite inferior. It’s simply a photocopy. According to their catalog, it looks like Prairie View’s is, too. If you’d like to see it in it’s actual glory, then please visit the Internet Archive’s version. They have digitized a version owned by the Library of Congress, whose version is not listed on WorldCat.
Back to the actual book, the book is written by and for Black people. It acts both as a piece of information about Black Houston for outsiders, like a promotional book, and as a way to praise the strides made by those featured.
What follows are noteworthy images and sections from the book. If you have never seen this book in all of its glory, you should check it out. Also, for those thinking about connections to The Negro Motorist Green Book, it was first published much later in 1936 by a man named Green. I did a search to see if there might be other “Red Books” and couldn’t find anything. If anyone has any more information, please share in the comments.
Sections of the book include schools with listings and addresses of each employee, as well as a focus on churches and their pastors. There is even a listing of clubs and lodges and all of the Black-owned businesses.
The man who took all or most of the images in the book was C.G. Harris.
There are many images spread out of prominent African-Americans and images of their homes.
In a section called “Social Calendar,” there’s a listing of the mostly married women, their address, phone numbers, and short and long bios. Mrs. Annie Hagan above posing with her house is featured.
Throughout the book, there are profiles of notable African-American men.
While many of the homes profiled in the book are gone. Here is one that still exists and has an historical marker.
Finally, one of the most harrowing images is of former slaves, living in Houston. Some of the ages are off, but it makes sense why some would not have known their years of birth.